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Kathy B. Hayes
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 215-362-0800
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Cell: 215-498-7058
Fax: 267-354-6839 
kathy@kathyhayesrealtor.com
Kathy B. Hayes

My Blog

Excessive Vacation Spending Can Damage Credit

June 22, 2015 1:03 am

It’s no secret travelers tend to spend more money when vacationing, but a recent Experian survey finds that the majority are relying on credit cards to make up the difference. Findings from the survey show that most travelers prefer to use credit than debit cards and cash for expenses like lodging, airfare, entertainment and dining.

"People want to come home from vacation with happy memories, not with unanticipated and unmanageable credit card bills," says Experian Consumer Services President Guy Abramo. "Racking up excessive credit card debt without a plan to pay it off can put people, especially millennials, in a bind that could affect their financial health and credit status for years to come."

According to the survey, millennials rank higher when it comes to risky vacation spending. Nearly three-quarters of millennials report spending more than expected when traveling, and one-third report not saving in advance of a vacation. More than half are strapped with credit card debt once the holiday ends.

Source: Experian Consumer Services

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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The Download on Digital Dwellings

June 22, 2015 1:03 am

Homeowners today are more plugged in than ever, incorporating technology into their digs like never before, says Moen Senior Director of Consumer and Marketing Insights Jack Suvak. A recent survey conducted by Moen explored the smart home trend, concluding that homeowners could make smart home technologies must-haves in the future.

"With easy access and the increased availability of smart devices, consumers are able to transform their homes into personal data epicenters, with instant access to news and up-to-the-minute information from family and friends," explains Suvak. "Our research found consumers own about seven personal digital devices, proving there is a definite demand for not just these devices, but the seamless integration of technology into the user's everyday life. In fact, 57 percent own one or more home-based smart devices like thermostats, security systems and televisions."

According to the survey, digital devices make many homeowners feel smart, organized and efficient. But there is such a thing as being “too connected”–more than three in 10 consumers surveyed found being tethered to a smart device made them feel anxious and tired.

"It's possible that as connected home devices improve, and become almost second nature, there is a greater likelihood negative opinions could move toward more positive feelings," Suvak says. "Maintaining a constantly 'turned on' mentality can be stressful, but as brands improve applications, and the technology behind connected home products becomes more intuitive and integrated, we may see a shift in how homeowners perceive and interact with these products in the future."

Source: Moen

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9 Ways to Color Your Summer at Home

June 22, 2015 1:03 am

Featuring hues reminiscent of languid summer days and breezy seaside vacations, this summer’s hottest color trends run the gamut of eye-catching bolds to grounding neutrals, say Ace Design Experts Katie Reynolds, Julie Richard and Nathan Fisch.

All three Design Experts recommend implementing this season’s color palette in small ways to avoid an overly-trendy look. For example:

• Paint your kitchen island for an updated look that’s easier than repainting your cabinets. A classic neutral, like a subtle gray, will pair nicely with most woods and finishes.

• Classic stripes continue to be a staple in many homes. Try painting them on a pair of oversized outdoor planters in a sunset-inspired combination of apricot orange and shrimp pink.

• If you’d like to incorporate one of this season’s pastel trends, such as peach, but are afraid of pulling it off, try balancing it with a complementary hue like classic navy.

• Graphic patterns and details are an easy way to make a big change. Add a pop of color stenciled in a chevron stripe on drawers of a basic white dresser with a Camellia blossom pink.

• Layered warm neutrals never go out of style and work equally as well in open floor plans or cozy nooks. Try using a darker neutral on the walls and ceiling, such as vanilla, and furnishing with a paler hue, like linen, for a fresh feel.

• Try a fun color pairing for a guest or kids room by painting a focal window wall in a brighter green (think green tomatoes) and then adding a muted green (think moss) on the window base.

• Deep blues and indigos like navy and blueberry are great go-to colors for a monochromatic color scheme inspired by the ocean. Simple and natural accents like stone top tables, linen or woven window coverings polish the look for a clean aesthetic that won’t fade over time.

• Combine a warm neutral, like honey, with a blush pink in a nursery or girl’s room for a soft look reminiscent of the flowers blooming outdoors.

• Shiplap wall paneling, featuring horizontal, overlapping wooden boards covering the walls is the perfect way to bring a nautical feel to any space. Try painting the wood in a crisp, snow white to make this architectural detail the feature focus.

Source: Ace Hardware

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5 Ways to Stay Active in Summer

June 19, 2015 1:04 am

(Family Features) Staying active in warmer months is always a challenge. Despite the best laid plans, life can get in the way – you may skip a gym visit to go to the beach, or miss that workout class to lounge by the pool. To avoid veering off track this summer, get moving with these tips.

1. Find ways to beat the heat. Don't let the summer sun be your excuse to stay indoors on those extra hot days. Set your alarm early to get your morning run or hike in before afternoon temperatures rise. Seek a refreshing, cool workout, such as water aerobics at the gym or paddle boarding at the lake when the temps are soaring.

2. Find motivation in all forms. Seek the help of like-minded individuals who also want to establish healthy routines. Look online for health and fitness blogs from others who can share their own journeys toward better health. Or, invest in a wearable fitness device for a personalized experience.

3. Establish a summer schedule. With kids out of school, it can be easy to fall into a more laid-back routine. Fight the urge to turn on the television and create an active schedule with your children. After dinner, have a family walk around the neighborhood or plan for weekend outings to your favorite local nature preserve.

4. Schedule a walking meeting at work. If sitting in an office is part of your daily routine, make a point to be active. Need to go over some items with a co-worker? Avoid booking the conference room and plan a walking meeting outside or around the building. Getting your heart ate up and taking in some fresh summer air may be just what you need for successful brainstorming on the job.

5. Plan for an active vacation. Don't let travel plans justify inactivity. Use your vacation as an opportunity to get moving and create new, healthy experiences. Visiting a historic town or city? Check out walking group tours to sightsee. Hitting the beach? Try beach volleyball, surfing or strolling beside the water every night. No matter where your travels take you, you can always find a way to be active.

Source:
MyMiraFit.com

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Mortgage Rates Reel In

June 19, 2015 1:04 am

After a notable run-up, both fixed and adjustable mortgage rates are taking a breather, reports Bankrate.com. Mortgage rates moved down slightly with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate slipping to 4.13 percent and the average 15-year fixed mortgage sliding to 3.35 percent.

Adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) have lowered as well, with the 5-year ARM down to 3.22 percent, and the 7-year ARM settling at 3.45 percent. The jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage retreated to 4.14 percent.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), while acknowledging the likelihood of an initial interest rate hike later this year, did emphasize that further economic improvement still needs to be seen and that the trajectory of interest rates will be gradual. This has calmed the nerves of bond investors, causing both bond yields and mortgage rates to settle after a period of volatility.
Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds, which fluctuate based on the outlook for the economy, interest rates and inflation.

Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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The Added Expenses Homeowners May Overlook

June 19, 2015 1:04 am

Many homeowners agree the most stressful part about owning a home is the added costs. According to a recent analysis by Zillow and Thumbtack.com, homeowners can pay more than $9,000 in additional expenses each year, with most averaging $6,042 in unavoidable costs like homeowners insurance, property taxes and utilities.

Though DIY is often the preference of many homeowners when it comes to cleaning their home or doing yard work, those who choose to outsource find equally variable costs across the country. Professional help for tasks like house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning and pressure washing averages $3,435 a year, the analysis found.

"Homebuyers too often fixate on the sticker price or monthly mortgage payment on a house, and don't budget for the other expenses associated with ownership – which can add up quickly," says Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Amy Bohutinsky. "For example, new buyers can get really excited about having a backyard of their own for the first time, without budgeting for how they plan to maintain that space."

For buyers who may be relocating to a different area of the country, the difference in costs regionally is crucial to consider when budgeting.

Source: Zillow

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6 Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Vehicle

June 18, 2015 1:03 am

Sitting in traffic when temperatures soar without a properly functioning air conditioning (A/C) system is the last place most drivers want to be. To avoid this uncomfortable situation, motorists should have their A/C system checked annually, say the experts at the Car Care Council.

A vehicle’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system (HVAC) keeps the interior cabin comfortable in any season by providing the right temperature and humidity level. Typical A/C service consists of the following steps:

• Service technician visually inspects hoses, lines, seals and other components for leaks as well as inspect the drive belt for cracks or damage.

• Technician checks pressures to test operation, refrigerant charge and outlet temperatures.

• If the system is found to be low on refrigerant, a leak test is performed to find the source of the leak. Keep in mind that if your vehicle is leaking refrigerant, it is damaging the ozone layer.

• Refrigerant may be added if necessary to “top off” the system, although some states do not allow “topping off.”

• A technician may also check for evidence of refrigerant cross-contamination, which is the mixing of refrigerants.

• A/C service should also include a check of the compressor’s drive belt and tension.

Additionally, when having a vehicle’s HVAC system inspected, the cabin air filter should be checked to make sure air is flowing properly into the car.

Source: CarCare.org

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How Long Will Your Household Fixtures Last?

June 18, 2015 1:03 am

Many maintenance projects for homeowners involve replacing an outdated appliance or fixture, but it can be difficult to discern when a household feature needs replacement, save for a major malfunction. One way to determine how often you should replace items is by its typical lifespan.

Fortunately, a lot of household fixtures won’t need expensive replacements for some time. Garage doors, gas fireplaces and linoleum floors are expected to last 25 years. Whirlpool bathtubs and sink faucets can last up to 20 years. Gas ovens and garage door openers may last 18 years, given proper care.

Other common appliances and fixtures, however, wear out more quickly. Though washing machines are expected to last 15 years, dryers are expected to last 13. Refrigerators can last up to 13 years, as well.

The numbers go down from there:

• Food Disposals, Water Heaters (12 years)

• Plasma Televisions (11 years)

• Lawnmowers, Carpets (10 years)

• Microwaves, Dishwashers (9 years)

• Air Conditioners (Window Unit), Mattresses (7 years)

• Rugs (5 years)

• Laptops (4 years)

• Roomba, Keurig Coffee Maker (2 years)

And the fixture that lasts longest? Coming in at 45 years, your doorbell will likely continue to operate after you’ve moved on from your current home.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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A Guide to Mortgages, HELOCs and More

June 18, 2015 1:03 am

(BPT) - Whether you're looking to make a first-time purchase, refresh an existing home or simply leverage built-up equity for other reasons, it's important to figure out which path is right for you and understand the lending options available.

First-time buyers must start with determining what is affordable. In addition to the mortgage payment, housing costs will include property taxes, homeowners insurance and fees, such as homeowner association dues. Altogether, costs should be no more than 28 percent of monthly gross income and should leave room to continue servicing other debt, such as student loans, credit cards or auto loans.

When preparing to buy a home, work through credit pre-approval to be ready with a strong offer when the opportunity arises. In addition to reviewing credit history, a loan originator will consider the amount of the down payment. A down payment typically ranges from 3-20 percent, and one that is less than 20 percent may require you to purchase mortgage insurance. A mortgage originator, however, can provide a variety of lending options to optimize your investment, from 15- and 30-year mortgages to fixed and variable terms.

If planning to make some improvements to a much-loved residence, consider financing the updates through a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Eligibility depends on how much equity has been built up in the home and the lender's loan-to-value ratio. A HELOC works much like a credit card and offers flexibility. A minimum amount is paid monthly, and interest applies to the amount borrowed.

Before embarking on a remodeling project, do some homework. Start with the lender to determine the value of the home and the loan amount available. Then, establish a budget, leaving room for unexpected expenses. Work with a reputable professional to define the project and its requirements, and shop around for bids and recommendations to confidently select a contractor. Some lenders offer checklists to help get the most from the investment.

Another option for financing a project through a home's equity is a home equity loan (HELOAN). As with a mortgage, the loan is granted as a lump sum and is paid back in installments over time, typically 10-15 years and at a fixed rate locked in at the time of securing the loan. A HELOAN works well for a one-time goal to improve the value of a home. Be mindful that either a HELOAN or a HELOC introduce some uncertainty, as monthly expenses will increase and must be maintained to avoid foreclosure risk.

Remember to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation. Start with a lender who can help you identify financial options available to home buyers and owners today. With careful planning and budgeting, the financing you need may be well within reach.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Going Abroad This Summer? Don't Forget These Necessities

June 17, 2015 1:03 am

With the economy on the upswing, a majority of Americans are planning a vacation abroad this summer. Those heading overseas have additional details to plan than domestic travelers. If you’re traveling abroad in the future, don’t forget these necessary steps, recommended by TravelGuideWorldwide.com.

Research your intended destination.
Be aware of seasonal, political and environmental conditions that may result in trip delays. For example, high-speed trains in Europe can be an enjoyable and efficient way to explore, but strikes by rail workers are not uncommon and are usually announced in advance, so have a backup plan. Know routes and timetables of regional trains and your options for spending additional sightseeing time or even another night at your destination.

Check your passport's expiration date.
If your passport is scheduled to expire within six months, some airlines may not let you board and some countries will not let you enter. In the U.S., routine renewal applications typically are processed within four to six weeks, but expedited options are available at an additional cost.

Prepare a water safety plan.
Water sports are a favorite summer vacation pastime, so if you or your family can benefit from age-appropriate swimming lessons, a boater safety session, or a refresher scuba diving course, look into options and consider the price to be part of your vacation budget. Consider enrolling in a CPR course, too; your training may not be called upon this summer, but it may benefit you and your loved ones long after the memories of your summer vacation have faded.

Learn about recommended immunizations. Get information from reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.CDC.gov/Travel) on immunizations. Schedule vaccination appointments well in advance to ensure you're protected before your journey begins. Consider visiting a travel immunization clinic, whose team may be more up to date than your primary care doctor on vaccinations for foreign destinations. Remember to check with your health insurance plan to determine your coverage and costs.

Source: TravelGuardWorldwide.com

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